En Guard: Educating Future Stewards
The NOAA Ocean Guardian School program, started in 2009, has worked with more than 60 schools throughout California to implement stewardship-based projects that directly protect or “guard” the ocean. Through hands-on activities on school grounds or in the community, students develop an awareness of how small changes in their daily activities can help protect the health of sanctuaries and the ocean.
The Ocean Guardian Program is only the latest in innovative and successful education programs since the establishment of the sanctuary system. In 1996, Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary launched the award-winning Down Under, Out Yonder workshop, providing a hands-on approach to sanctuary learning that starts on land, then moves to the sea. In 2004 Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary launched its Sharkmobile program to educate 4th through 6th grade students about shark biology and conservation at their schools; the program has expanded to include Crab Cab, Seabird Shuttle, Turtle Taxi, and Fisherman In the Classroom. In 2005, in the first ever dedicated education expedition on a NOAA ship, the Hi’ialakai carried 12 educators, and two scientific piggyback expeditions to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary works with the Massachusetts Marine Educators to host an annual student marine art contest that has grown global in scope.